Reckless with the freedom that retirement offers, we decide to stay up to watch the American election results.
11.15 p.m. We start with the BBC. Straight away, we notice that Scot Andrew Neill seems to have adopted an American accent. Rather worried, we switch to ITV. A woman is saying that she felt emotional when voting. Similarly, I get a surge of pride whenever I go into a voting booth in this country and put my pencilled X. I get annoyed when people don’t vote; many of their forebears suffered for these rights. I recall with awe the long, patient queues in the sun when apartheid ended and there were free elections in South Africa.
Every American I have ever met-here and in my only visit, a fortnight in California (probably not typical)- has been courteous, polite, helpful and friendly. Why does the image I get from the media so often contradict this?
11.36 p.m. Both sides are saying they are very encouraged, and things are very positive for them. I have heard this before somewhere.
11.32 p.m. Apparently many Trump supporters feel that the media are the enemy; that so much reminds me of the Brexit debate. “We are hearing of the divides that need to be healed,” a commentator says.This really is a problem we are facing here as well. Why can’t we agree to disagree?
11.45 p.m. As there are ads, we switch to Sky. A very busy screen.
11.51 p.m. Back to the BBC. A welter of polls and statistics. What is ‘favourability’?
Mrs O. points out that many people voted for Brexit because they wanted a change, and that this seems to be the root of much of the support for Trump.
There is an awful tendency to regard this election as a soap opera, or TV drama. It’s not, of course; it will impact on us enormously. Or will it?
Nothing has really happened yet, but the commentators tirelessly attempt to make news. Oh, sorry, I haven’t noticed! Apparently it’s 19-3 to Trump. (I notice some of the presenters saying ‘gonna’ rather than ‘going to’. )
12.51 a.m. There is a tremendous amount of discussion about differing groups of the American electorate: Hispanic, white, black….. female, male….. in a way that does not seem so prominent in the U.K. It seems to me that racial groupings in particular do not have such an influence here.
We change into our night clothes and cover ourselves with the duvet. Tea and pizza. I looked at Twitter but I never seem to find the controversial tweets. 68-37 to Clinton. We don’t really understand this electoral college system. Presumably it’s keyed to the population of the states. I have just looked it up and found a good explanation here: Independent newspaper. It all looks very confusing…. and there is some controversy about how fair it is.
1.28 a.m. Again there is talk of how groups in America feel they have been neglected; that they want attention; that they are not represented. The commentators have drawn comparisons with Brexit; here again some of the Leave supporters felt the media and the political elite were alof and not listening to them. The American ambassador to the UK has just appealed for decency; President Obama has just given a similar message.
The score is Trump 72, Clinton 75. It’s tempting to view this as a sporting occasion.
I have invited Mrs O. to make a comment; “It’s early days”, she says, unarguably right. Will we last much longer?
2.09 a.m. It has just been suggested (by an American) that there may be some sexism in the U.S.A. that means there is still a resistance to the idea of a woman president. Cheese and biscuits and banana chutney and wine. Just a splash of wine.
2.25 a.m. Trump 137, Clinton 104. All the Americans interviewed have been very rational and considered; the Trump supporters have been very much peacemakers, especially as the prospect of President Trump seems to be looming.
Piers Morgan has just appeared. (We’re back on ITV.) He says Trump has made his pitch for white working-class men, rather than Latinos, African-American and female voters. On the BBC website, Trump has dropped back to 129 votes. Why? Sorry, back up to 137 now. Mrs O.wants one of the ITV ‘Washington DC’mugs.
We are debating whether or not it’s worth staying up… The BBC seems to think it’s poised, ITV perhaps more Trump…
2.55 a.m. We give up. If, by some faint chance, you read this in the morning, you will know the result before we do. What a weird evening…..
(The images are marked as ‘free to use’ on Google.)